Just days before two Wesleyan alumni are up for four Oscars for the critically acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild, University President Michael Roth announced the creation of the College of Film and Moving Image on his blog.
During the Wesleyan Entertainment Reception at the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 18, Roth said, “The film curriculum is already so very strong, anchored in liberal learning and connected with the making of new work for cinema, television, and the web," according to the Wesleyan Connection newsletter.
"The college structure will enable us to marshal our resources more effectively and to shine a brighter light on the great work that’s been happening in film and related areas for some time,” Roth added.
On Sunday at the 84th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Wesleyan alumni Benh Zeitlin ’04, the director and co-writer whose film received four Academy Award nominations, will join alum, Dan Janvey ’06, who produced Beasts, in the audience.
Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, founder and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, reacted to the news in the Wesleyan Connection.
“Since its birth around the early 1970s, the Film Studies Department has been interdisciplinary. We are delighted that the College of Film and Moving Image unites the Film Studies Department, the Cinema Archives, the Center for Film Studies, and the Wesleyan Film Series into a single entity," Basinger said.
Basinger, who joined Roth at the Los Angeles reception after a day of book signings for her latest publication, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, began planning the new college about two years ago.
The film major and film department will remain unchanged, Higgins said, though he added, “we hope that the new college will allow us to build on our current success.” The film major has grown steadily from fewer than 30 students at its inception to more than 80 today.
Scott Higgins, acting chair and associate professor of film studies, told the Wesleyan Connection that the university hopes this new collaboration will produce a world-class field of study. "Wesleyan leads all other liberal arts colleges in the area of film studies, and compares well with major film schools," he said.
In 2005, Basinger said of Zeitlin, according to the student-run blog Wesleying:
“Benh is the real deal,” said Jeanine Basinger, his former advisor and Chair of the Film Department. “He’s got amazing talent, works terribly hard, and he has an original, quirky sensibility. The combination was irresistible.”
Beasts of the Southern Wild garnered four nods: Best Picture, Best Director (Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar), and Best Actress (Quevenzhané Wallis).
The 85th Academy Awards, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, will broadcast Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
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